Dimmu Borgir / Eonian

Eonian

Dimmu Borgir (/ˌdɪm ˈbɔːrɡɪər/) is a Norwegian symphonic black metal band from Oslo, Norway, formed in 1993. The name is derived from Dimmuborgir, a volcanic formation in Iceland, the name of which means “dark cities” or “dark castles/fortresses” in IcelandicFaroese and Old Norse. The band has been through numerous lineup changes over the years; guitarist Silenoz and vocalist Shagrath are the only original members who still remain with guitarist Galder being a longstanding member.

The Analysis—-

The Unveiling—-The intro to this track is a huge mish-mash of confused Industrial sounds that quickly give way to the classic Dimmu sound that I require in my ears at least once a week. This opening track….at first listen was a throw a way…has become a rel favorite of mine. I love the varied yet predictable sound and the instantly recognizable voice of Shagrath. This has huge ebbs and flows…..I was not won over at first….but combined together…this is a required listen with the release as an entirety.

Interdimensional Summit—-From the very first three notes, you are assured of hat band you are listening to…there is no doubt. Shagrath sounds like he is driven by the music with his voice….the joined voices and the orchestration is like a huge movie for your ears. The surprise hear is the chorus…so addictive and accessible it might de-rail the Black Metal card for this band, This is epic…spectacular and addictive as hell…this will live in your brain for days to come.

Aethric—-Again, truly epic in sound…but more straight forward Metal than the previous two songs. There is a darkness around the edges of this song that I just love. The sound is so layered and huge I shake my head in amazement. The drums are incredible….the guitars are a wonderful wall of sound. Then the chorus smacks you in the face and becomes another instant favorite. This band has a recipe and it works every time for me….fuck the critics…I love the record!

Council Of Wolves And Snakes—-A bit sedate at the onset, the song becomes much more aggressive as it evolves. The sharp and fast guitar blasts are intense….the drums high and fast. Shagrath delivers a demonic vocal that wraps around your soul and turns your heart black. And then again….the chorus erupts and becomes another instant classic….I can’t understand the disdain for this band…maybe I’m an unintentional poser…lol.

The Empyrean Phoenix—-A slight folk feel to the intro to this song, the mayhem kicks in and becomes normal Dimmu after a few seconds. as usual….the drums are outstanding as Shagrath unleashes a hell storm of demonic vocals backed by a mysterious choir of Oh’s in the background….this is huge…epic in sound and a journey all of it’s own. This is a superb track.

Lightbringer—–Deep and dense…..full of layers right at the onset, this makes me feel comfortable and happy that after 8 long years my band has delivered an epic masterpiece. this is a slight mish mash of sounds….the bashing and crashing a bit monotonous after a bit…but the song finally opens up and ushers in a vocal that manages to keep perfect pace with the maddening drums. This is epic…a bit noisier than previous tracks…but fits in on the record rather well.

I Am Sovereign—-Huge layers of sound are piled on layers of sound…creating this dark and frozen landscape that is perfect for this band. The marching vocal and drums are like a prelude to war….the vocal comes at you in this wicked scream that twists your neck around in circles. This is stellar….a huge barrage of symphonic sound….gut vocals,,,and whispered incantations….brilliant!

Archaic Correspondence—-For me, this hearkens back to older days of the band. The drums are so fast and in your face….the guitars are a complete wall of sound….and Shagrath steps forward and is the steerer of the ship. This is epic in sound and construction…..and has a certain melody quality that will stay with you. I love this.

Alpha Aeon Omega—-Nothing spectacular here…all I can say is that the band as a whole, is truly consistent in sound and delivery….you know….at this point what to expect from the Norwegian Gods of Black Metal…this is spectacular…overblown….but accessible and catchy.

Rite Of Passage—-Rather sedate at the onset, this closing track takes a bit to get going but awakes in epic fashion with huge swells of orchestration and guitars. You can almost see the fog around the band as the song plays…it is that epic in sound. This instrumental leaves you with a hungry taste in your mouth….let’s hope it is not another 8 year wait!!!

***** out of 5

A Flock Of Seagulls [With The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra] / Ascension

Ascension

Ascension is the sixth studio album by the band A Flock of Seagulls, and was released on 6 July 2018.[1][2] It is the first album since 1984’s The Story of a Young Heart that features all four original members. It contains twelve songs (eleven from the first three albums and one new song) rerecorded with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Analysis—-

I Ran—-Let me say, first off, as a die-hard fan of this band from the very first day, I met this project with trepidation and the slight dread of a possible disaster. Joyously, I announce that this release is a triumph….a return of magic and a new appreciation for old songs I never tire of. Of course, the most famous song of the 80’s, what could you do to improve on it? Wait 35 years…..add oboes…strings and horns and the ageless voice of Mike Score…..that’s what. This is just magical…the song retains every key element as the original…but is even larger in this format. This is really incredible. Like time has never passed.

Modern Love Is Automatic—-This orchestrated version bolsters this track, but still manages to keep the quasi-pop-punk sound of the original. The swirls of the added instruments make the song so much larger…the crisp recording when listened to in headphones, transports you into some other world. Mike Score sounds so good on this recording…no altering of the vocal…no down key delivery….the enunciation is even better than the first go around. This is just fantastic.

Telecommunication—-One of my very favorite tracks from this band…I approached this with caution. But there was no need….the slight re-working makes it faster and edgier than even the original…and back in the day, we thought this song was really something. The jaunty strings and drums from the Orchestra are incredible. This is just a moment in time not to be forgotten…wish everyone could hear this release.

Space Age Love Song—–This has been ‘re-produced’ in the most fantastic fashion possible. I actually prefer this version over the original and countless re-recordings. This is epic…in sound…delivery and spirit…..I can’t say enough good things about this….check out the video at the end of this post….please!!!!

Ascension—-This instrumental is the only new track on this release, but it gives me hope for the future. while it can’t come close to DNA…it still has a very nice updated sound and is catchy to my ear…especially with all he added string…pomp…and circumstance.

Wishing [If I Had A Photograph]—-This remains pretty true to form as the original….there are momentary swirls of grand music…but the song remains remarkably untouched….Score…sounding a bit strained here but still masterful and true to form. You catch every word…his enunciation is so much better these days. A remarkable rendition.

Nightmares—-True to form, the strings that are added to this track manage to make things even more dramatic than originally planned. Score sounds fresh and remarkable in his delivery….the synth lines are still there…..bolstered by the slight swells of strings and woodwinds. This is fantastic.

DNA—-Always a very, very favorite instrumental of mine, I consider this almost pure perfection in the pop world of instrumentals. This remains true to form but becomes even larger and more magnificent. The release would not be complete without this included…after all…this 2:30 won the band a Grammy. Pure magic.

Electric—-This at times, sounds a bit watered down to me…but it was never on my top 10 list. I like the energy of the whole damn thing….I can only imagine that the Orchestra must have had a blast with this recording…it just sounds like fun. The vocal is a little removed….but still sounds like it did 30+ years ago.

Transfer Affection—-This rendition is pure magic. The mellow feel of the song is bolstered by the strings that lie in the background of the song….there are subtle horns that give a body to the song. Meanwhile the synth line remains in overdrive…but never overpowers anything. This is a perfect meld of classic and current coming together to create quite a moment. I will listen to this over and over.

The More You Live, The More You Love—-This track becomes quite literally epic with the strings and the swells of the symphony. The synth line rides on top of the swells of music….but the pieces fit together like a well cut jigsaw puzzle. this was a recording meant for this type of treatment. This is another real high point on this recording….just magical.

Man-Made—-This rendition of the song becomes even darker and melancholy…more ominous and havy on your brain with this recording. The original was always pretty deep in sound and intense….this just grows with the added instrumentation. Another really stand out track on this release. It is amazing how the future has come to pass 30 years on…..maybe the band knew what they were doing after all. This is a must have recording if you are a fan of this band or the 80’s!

***** out of 5

Ghost / Prequelle

Prequelle

Ghost is a Swedish rock band that was formed in LinköpingSweden in 2006. In 2010, they released a 3-track demo followed by a 7″ vinyl titled “Elizabeth“, and later their debut full-length album Opus Eponymous. The Grammis-nominated album was widely praised and significantly increased their popularity. Their second album and major label debut Infestissumam was released in 2013, debuted at number one in Sweden, and won the Grammis Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Album. The band released their third studio album, Meliora, in 2015, to much critical acclaim and high record sales, reaching number one in their home country of Sweden, and number eight in the United States. Its lead single, “Cirice“, earned them the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. The band released their fourth studio album, Prequelle, in 2018.

Ghost is easily recognizable owing greatly to its eccentric on-stage presence. Five of the group’s six members, its ‘Nameless Ghouls’,  wear virtually identical, face-concealing costumes. Prior to a 2017 lawsuit filed by former members of the band, lead singer Tobias Forge obscured his identity behind the character “Papa Emeritus”. The character, which consists of Forge in a prosthetic mask and makeup can be best described as a ‘demonic anti-pope’.  The Papa Emeritus Character has gone through four incarnations – I, II, III, and Nihil. As of the 2018 album Prequelle and subsequent world tour, Forge portrays a character known as “Cardinal Copia”, who is described as being unrelated to any of the Papa Emeritus characters and whose costume consists of either Cardinal vestments or a black tuxedo alongside a prosthetic mask with black eyemakeup and the multi-colored eyes which had been present in each Papa characte.

Prequelle is the fourth studio album by Swedish rock band Ghost. It was released on June 1, 2018 and produced by Tom Dalgety. The album’s first single, “Rats“, was released ahead of the album on April 13, and as of June, had peaked at number four on the BillboardMainstream Rock Songs chart. The album marked the band’s strongest selling debut to date, landing at number 3 on the Billboard 200, selling 66,000 copies in its first week, with 61,000 of those being “traditional” album sales.

The album’s theme focuses on Medieval times and the Black Death along with more modern themes.

The Analysis—-

Ashes—-Eerie from the onset, this is typical Ghost….turning a harmless nursery rhyme into something twisted and then morphing magically into…..

Rats—-This track…..full of contradictions…lyrically dark and eerie…but the sound is so accessible and listenable. Full of huge harmonies, powerful guitars and an unforgettable melody line, this will lay in tour head for days. The double tracked vocals really wrap the song into the most accessible track they have ever produced. This is phenomenal.

Faith—-A nice powerful soaring guitar intro, the chug chug of the bass line shows up right after the intro. Tobias enters with his accessible vocal….you can catch every word from this band and let it sink into your brain. This is again, full of perfect harmonies and a melody line that is contagious as hell. The middle break of the song is nice….keeping the ‘metal’ cred in tact. This is fantastic…the band has outdone itself with this release.

See The Light—-Such a gentle intro, you just sit back and question how you can possibly categorize this band in any genre. This just does not fit in perfectly anywhere!! There are perfect pop moments hear…as well as pure symphonic metal moments as well. Combine all of this with a pitch perfect vocal and you just sit back and shake your head in amazement. This is just about as perfect as it can get.

Miasma—-Dank, dark and full of an underlying eerie-ness, the intro to this is fantastic. The song kicks into a nice gear shortly after and has many of the metal elements I require from this band. The guitars produce a soaring melody that is infectious and electric. This is pure perfection. A great song placement as well…it ‘breaks’ up the album really well.

Dance Macabre—-Remarkable right from the onset, the track is heavily dipped in the sound of the 80’s while still managing to sound fresh and brand new. The lyrics….the singing….the melody and harmony is so damn addictive and accessible…..for me, one of the best things the band has ever done…this is a magical moment on this release.

Pro Memoria—-Swells of a slight symphonic movement opens the song….dense and layered with musical emotion…you feel like you stepped into a soundtrack. Then Tobias enters and utters Lucifer and you realize the slight hilarity of all the contradictions from this band. This is not a happy-go-lucky song….but the delivery is so damn pleasant you can’t help but to fall in love with the damn thing. Just incredible.

Witch Image—-Returning to a more predictable and familiar sound, the intro begins and falls away to allow for the vocal. the song leans on pop-rock elements at every turn. The harmonies and melody are exquisite…..sounding like an updated Pink Floyd. The magic is the voice and the contradiction of the lyrics….this is so dark….but so damn pleasant. I’m in a whirlwind.

Helevetesfonster—-Exquisite flutes open the track…in the back ground a slight deep rumble lies around. The melody line from the instrument is so damn magical…it lulls you into an almost trance like state. The drums enter…but never enter the beauty of the instrumentation. This is huge….masterful and delivered with an incredible finesse’. There are so many ‘prog’ like movements in this instrumental…..it’s like the glory days of the 70’s Prog movement.

Life Eternal—-Stripped down to almost bare bones, the only instrument at the onset is the gentle keyboard joined with the vocal. The track opens up a bit…but still remains a rather melancholic love song to princes or princesses of darkness. This is superb. I hate to see this all end so soon. A remarkable release.

**** out of 5